Then and Now: Air travel in 1947, and 2018

#1 Sep 22nd, 2018, 19:26
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In 1947, at the cusp of indian independence, Panam left Laguardia's Marine terminal at 10:30PM on a Friday and arrived at Calcutta on Monday, 0130PM. West Coast was worse, Leave San Francisco at 900PM on a Thursday, and arrived Calcutta at 130PM in the afternoon on a Tuesday.

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In 1947, according to the diary of one of my friend's elder sister (a school teacher) her income was $3380 for the whole year (before taxes) And the round trip fare was $889. A whopping nearly ~1/4 of her annual income, 13 weeks salary to be precise. His father's, as a shop-floor supervisor, was about ~10,000 , (who was median middle class )

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In 2018, the fare from New York to Kolkata has remained nearly the same (actually cheaper in some cases) After normalizing for today's rate for same experience in the same school district, one would be expending nearly ~1/75th of one's annual salary. About 27+ hours worth of salary to get to Pujo.

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In 1947, an undergrad working within the campus at the school in Boston area, was paid about 50c/hour. Today, it's about $8.25/hour shelving books. The Federal minimum wage in '47 was 40c/hour and today it is $7.25.

In 1947, if one planned to visit India in the summer, as a student shelving books, he/she would at 20 hour/week, a 16 week semester, work nearly 3 semester. Today, she would cover it in less than two months.

Reality being what it is, for a student, not living at home, in 1947 would actually take whole of undergrad years, and today, two semesters. During my school time in the early 80s, airfare ex-BOS to BOM was $1100 during summer.

As airfare relative to income fell, people who would otherwise never venture outside the 50 states, began to go, where only the well prepared, and determined would venture in the past. The Jolene's of the world - Riff-raff-mama, with a freshly received passport, headed to Greenbrier airport
#2 Sep 22nd, 2018, 21:16
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When traveled to Britain to study in the early 60's for me the only option was by boat and then at the very bottom of the boat and that was dormitory, males one side with plywood partion and females on the other side, one of the last trips of the boat before being sent of to the scrapyard.Now no problem going off for a weeks holiday, no other way but by plane, a cruise is much much more expensive
#3 Sep 22nd, 2018, 21:29
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Originally Posted by dcamrass1 View Post When traveled to Britain to study in the early 60's for me the only option was by boat and then at the very bottom of the boat and that was dormitory, males one side with plywood partion and females on the other side, one of the last trips of the boat before being sent of to the scrapyard.Now no problem going off for a weeks holiday, no other way but by plane, a cruise is much much more expensive
Strange isn't it ! In the 50s, From Mumbai going to England by boat was cheaper than flying on BOAC. Now, only dumb-idiots, ask about going on a cargo ship Which of course charge more than a cheap flight

How much was the flight from Tel Aviv to London in the 60s ?
#4 Sep 22nd, 2018, 21:36
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Originally Posted by nycank View Post Strange isn't it ! In the 50s, From Mumbai going to England by boat was cheaper than flying on BOAC. Now, only dumb-idiots, ask about going on a cargo ship Which of course charge more than a cheap flight

How much was the flight from Tel Aviv to London in the 60s ?
Was not on my thoughts to even inquire about a flight. Wanted to buy a small transistor radio (very new then for me)was $50 and could not afford it.Also then short of cash arranged to work on a cargo boat to get over to New York but scrapped that idea because of the Vietnam war (anothe story)
#5 Sep 22nd, 2018, 23:35
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My maternal Grandfather was a Navigator for TWA after WW2 up until he got replaced by a computer in 1978. He got to see Mumbai early in India's post independence decades. He had a hard time seeing people sleeping in the streets and couldn't understand why no one was helping them. That about all I heard from him on the subject, had he taken Grandma there I'm sure I would have heard more.

It still strikes me as a odd bit about the world that I pay about as much for tickets now as I did in the 80's and 90's, when scraping up the money took a lot more effort.
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#6 Sep 23rd, 2018, 07:38
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That is the quality issue with calculating GDP. My first computer cost 1950 USD after intense bargaining over 3 hours by a skilled Indian bargainer. It had 128 k memory and no hard drive. A little hardware hacking and it was the best around at 256k. Compare that to modern prices building a 64gig system (wish me luck on that project) for about 400 USD for scrap parts..
#7 Sep 23rd, 2018, 20:06
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#7

Much more efficient

Yes. I recall a one way ticket DEL to JFK in 1979 was Rs 6800, or about $ 800.
Likewise a RT, philly to LAX in 1984 was $ 600 on TWA ( you can pay less today), even after deregulation was well under way in the US. I think people's express may have been cheaper.

Clearly lots of cost were pulled out... Reservations/ ticketing, ground staff, salaries etc... But even so the 2 big costs for airlines... Capital cost for planes and fuel costs remain. planes are far more efficient, but still today's fares are phenomenally low.

Now if only a fraction of the same happened to healthcare costs and college tuitions in the USA!

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